Using a Smartphone as a Laptop Alternative
Before I get into this, I want to make one thing very clear, this article is written with a focus on writers specifically. Being one myself, I know writers don’t require too much to be productive. A word processor, a browser, and an internet connection is all that we need most of the times. However, the setup shared here can work for social media marketers, video editors, and graphic designers in certain scenarios. That being said, let’s start.
So, recently I came across this rant on a Facebook group. A writer was complaining about missing a few deadlines because of the power cuts we are facing in Karachi.
If you are not familiar with the city, it is Pakistan’s financial hub. Once known as the city of lights, Karachi now faces regular power cuts that can last for hours depending on the area you live in. The frequency of these cuts is especially high during the summers. Apparently K Electric, the company responsible for the management and distribution of power to Karachi, doesn’t get enough electricity from the national grid to meet the city’s demand. Or so we are being told for decades.
You might’ve also noticed that I have mentioned laptops in the title. So, there’s one other thing that you should know about Pakistan. Compared to other countries, brand new laptops cost a lot more here. Luckily, we have large markets dedicated to selling refurbished laptops. I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that such markets cater to a large number of freelancers of the country. Unfortunately, the battery backup of these refurbished machines is hardly enough and most people, including me, use them plugged in.
I hope these two small details have managed to establish the significance of, and need for, an alternative.
Anyways, being a Karachiite myself, I could totally relate to that rant. Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to not miss my deadlines, well, at least I haven’t missed any because of the power cuts. ;)
So, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I share my portable setup with everyone? It would benefit the community and help a lot of writers keep their clients.”
Hence, this post!
The title picture above may have given away what my setup looks like. But for the heck of it, I have explained everything below. You will require a few accessories for this and will have to spend about PKR 2000 or $15 (the amount could vary depending on the country you live in). I bought everything locally from an online store, but I will not be sharing any links seeing that this isn’t an affiliate marketing post.
Here’s what you need:
· A smartphone holder
· A Bluetooth keyboard
· A Type-C to USB dongle (or one that is according to your phone)
· A mouse (I have used a wireless one but a wired one works as well)
· A mouse pad (optional)
· A pair of earphones (if you like listening to music while you work)
Once you have everything, the rest of it becomes self-explanatory, frankly.
Pair the Bluetooth keyboard with your phone. Plug in the USB dongle and connect the mouse. If you are planning to use earphones, plug them in as well.
Now, place your phone sideways on the holder.
Your hardware is ready for action. The tough part is over. You are almost ready to become productive.
I have used an Android phone for this. If you are an iPhone user, however, the setup is more or less the same. Except, you will require an iOS-compatible Bluetooth keyboard and a relevant dongle. And seeing how Apple works, both of these items might set you back a lot more.
Now that you have the hardware setup, it’s time to get the right apps. This part is mostly preferential. Play Store and App Store are full of free and paid Office apps. Since I rely on the convenience of cloud storage, I use Google Docs on my phone.
I also use Google’s Chrome browser as it lets me share the same tabs on multiple devices. Safari works in a similar manner I think, although I am not sure of this.
If you haven’t already, turn on the auto screen rotation. Also, increase the font size of your phone to avoid straining your eyes or, at least, lowering its intensity.
Turn on split-screen as it comes in handy. Don’t worry, most modern smartphones have it and so do a lot of flagship models from previous years. So you don’t necessarily need a newer model.
All this might seem quite basic. Like something that has always been on the back of your head. It is just that. Sometimes we are so busy that we become blind to the simplest of things that are just right in front of us. I believe this setup to be one of those. So, just consider this article to be a refresher.
For those of you wanting to use this setup for any other purpose than writing, if relevant apps exist, you will be able to make this work for most basic tasks. When you try it, let me know how it turned out for you.
Despite being simple, this setup can make you very productive. There are a few cons to it though. Like, the typing speed gets somewhat affected, the small smartphone screen can strain the eyes, etc. It also takes a little getting used to the split-screen. And, yes! It is not a permanent solution. But it is perfect to meet those tight deadlines when struggling with power cuts.
Do let me know if you find this post useful. Also, let me know whether you have ever used a similar setup or not. Until next time!